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Wednesday
Jan122011

Follow the Red Carpet Road

Just for kicks -- synchronized kicks while singing "We're Off to See The Wizard" -- I've been casting some of this year's behind the scenes Oscar hopefuls as denizens of the that magical land Over the Rainbow. It's less gay than it sounds, I promise. I blame Hailee Steinfeld's pigtails for the inspiration. It's all her fault.

Find out which character each Best Director candidate plays and help me cast the other players. Read the article at Tribeca Film

Wednesday
Jan122011

Y los nominados son... 

Jose here. The nominations for the 25th Annual Goya Awards have been announced and leading the pack is none other than The Last Circus, Alex De La Iglesia's killer clown allegory which not only earned him a Best Director award at last year's Venice Film Festival but also picked up some of the worst reviews of any movie in any festival during 2010.

 

Best Film

The bad reviews didn't seem to deter the Spanish Film Academy which showered the film with nods (a whopping 15! More than any other movie this year) including Breakthrough Actress for the appropriately named Carolin Bang and of course Best Picture and Best Director. Interestingly enough, de la Iglesia is also the Academy's president. But before we scream nepotism we have to take into consideration that Spain makes fewer movies than many countries with film awards and will, well, sometimes nominate anything.

Best Actor Nominees: Javi & Ryan

Speaking of which, Ryan Reynolds is nominated for Best Actor for his work in Buried (which was made by a Spaniard, Rodrigo Cortés, and is therefore eligible). It's not that Reynolds' work isn't good or maybe better than he had any right to be or better than anything anyone ever expected from him, but when you see he's nominated next to Javier Bardem (for Biutiful) things just seem odd, huh?

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem -Biutiful
  • Ryan Reynolds -Buried
  • Luis Tosar -Even the Rain
  • Antonio de la Torre -The Last Circus

The lovely Elena Anaya (pictured left) is up for Best Actress for her work in Room in Rome (read my review here) we'll see her next in Pedro Almodóvar's new film! Rome also won nominations for Breakthrough Actress and Best Song (I wonder where its nomination for Best Use of Google Maps is...)

Best Actress

  • Elena Anaya -Room in Rome
  • Nora Navas -Pa Negre
  • Belén Rueda -Julia's Eyes
  • Emma Suárez -The Mosquito


The actress category looks unimpressive when you remember that last year the nominees were Lola Dueñas, Rachel Weisz, Maribel Verdú and Pe! 

Considering that most of the films selected for the Goyas rarely get release dates in our continent let's head over to see international categories.

Best Latin American Film


Best European Film


Don't you just hate when last year's releases compete with this year's releases for awards? Let's all dream of a day when EVERY movie will be released around the world at the same time. It would make for some exciting global unity sort of thing huh?

So, dear readers in Europe, you're probably more equated with these films: Anyone you're rooting for? Anything we should be looking forward to when it's released here?

[More categories at the Goya Awards Official Site]

Wednesday
Jan122011

Wow! Luise Rainer is 101

Happy birthday to the oldest living Oscar winner, Luise Rainer

"The Good Earth" and "The Great Ziegfeld"May she live to be as old as she wants to!

Luise was the first actress to become a double Oscar winner (36/37) and the first thespian to do it back-to-back though Spencer Tracy repeated her trick immediately (37/38); Katharine Hepburn (67/68), Jason Robards (76/77) and Tom Hanks (93/94) followed suit.

Tonight
TCM is airing interviews with Luise

OLDEST LIVING OSCAR NOMINEES

  1. LUISE RAINER (two time Best Actress winner), now 101.
  2. NORMAN CORWIN (nominee, wrote Lust for Life) is 100 1/2.
  3. DOUGLAS SLOCOMBE (3-time nominee, shot Raiders of the Lost Ark) is 98 next month.
  4. ELMO WILLIAMS (Oscar winner, editing High Noon) is 98 in April.
  5. OSWALD MORRIS (Oscar winner, shot Fiddler on the Roof) recently turned 95.
  6. OLIVIA deHAVILLAND (two time Best Actress winner and featured in fav actresses gallery) is 94
  7. KIRK DOUGLAS (Michael Douglas pappy and 3 time nominee) just turned 94.
  8. ERNEST BORGNINE (Best Actor winner, Marty) turns 94 this month. He was last seen in the action comedy Red (2010).
  9. CELESTE HOLM (Best Supporting Actress winner for Gentleman's Agreement which we were just discussing and the best thing about a million movies, don'cha think?) is 93.
  10. JOAN FONTAINE (Best Actress winner, Suspicion) is 93.

lots more here though I can never decide if the keeping of this list is too morbid or appropriately celebratory of longevity. Wouldn't it be great if they asked ANY of them to present an Oscar this year? Nah, they'll probably ask Miley Cyrus again instead, DAMNIT.

Tuesday
Jan112011

Best of 2010: Prophets, Toys, Fish Tanks and Rabbit Holes

Previously: Honorable Mentions
(Short on time so the second half has to wait. Apologies.)

Part 1
The Film Experience loves nothing more than being transported by the movies. The year's top dozen (a baker's dozen) took us deep inside French prisons, soared over Viking villages, danced into British projects and stumbled into Australian crime dens. This year's best films wandered 'round places both far flung (wealthy Italian estates) and right next door (New York City's Lincoln Center wherein a certain ballerina frets and pirouettes and transforms).

 

Wherever the year's best took us, we wanted to go. In fact, we're ready to go again. Just let us grab that unpublished manuscript and a treasured childhood toy for the journey. And, oops... just -- updating facebook status. Okay, now we're ready. Let's go!

[mild very vague spoilers on The Ghost Writer and Fish Tank]

RUNNERS UP



Un prophète dir. Jacques Audiard
[Sony Pictures Classics, Feb 26th]
Last year's shouldawontheforeignoscar contender treads excessively familiar ground patiently, biding its time. Malik (breakthrough sensation Tahar Rahim) may be a criminal savant but Jacques Audiard is the alpha dog in this dank dangerous racially charged prison (and outside of it as well). The French auteur's always expressive cinematic voice makes full use of both image and sound. They flicker and pulse as if in whispered conversation, haunting each other with their most awful details. Malik's horrifying character arc from remorseful killer to skilled death-dealer is so gradual that you're as surprised as he when you fully grasp the new criminal ecosystem when exiting this prison.

Toy Story 3 dir. Lee Unkrich
[Disney/Pixar, June 18th]

This latest and hopefully last Toy Story adventure expertly capitalizes on nostalgia for itself. (Please don't make another one Pixar as you'll taint the beautiful full circle affect of this one.) Scene for scene TS3 is maybe both the best comedy and the best tearjerker of the year.  The only reason it's not in the top ten -- shush, I realize it's supposed to be -- is that its deep comforts and emotional potency are inarguably the product of 15 years of other movies and cozy familiarity with the characters. Its considerable charm and four hankie finale is not exactly derived from this movie itself. In other words, it's got an enormous advantage over practically everything else that came out in 2010. It's like when everyone declared the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith so epic and moving and pretended that the movie didn't suck while it borrowed its emotional affect from the Force being with us for 30 years. The difference here (he quickly adds) is that Toy Story 3 is a marvelous movie in its own right: inventive, hilarious, beautifully staged.

Rabbit Hole dir. John Cameron Mitchell
[Lions Gate, Dec 17th]
This is a refreshingly unhistrionic portrait of grief and those are rare beasts. Its unassuming strengths, and maybe that hushed release in the noisiest of movie seasons, might be the thing(s) preventing it from breaking out. Which, come to think of it, is reflective of Becca herself (a great Nicole Kidman) as she's always getting in her own way. David Lindsay-Abaire's expert screenplay gets so many things about grief right. It understands that those most in need of comfort often push it away, it gets the way righteous anger leaks out as freeform hostility, and it sees that strangers can offer clarity and windows to healing that loved ones, with their messy intimacies, cannot. This might not sound like fun but it's sometimes bracingly funny. Rabbit Hole begins with a shot of Becca opening a bag of soil while she tensely gardens. Mitchell's sensitive direction and the fine cast do the work, but they trust you to notice their eventual flowering.

Top Ten List 


How To Train Your Dragon
dir. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
[Dreamworks, March 26th]
Here's to happy miracles. When was the last time you saw a movie boy rewarded for using his smarts and intuition and accepting his peaceful nature? When was the last time the hero of an epic was a pacifist rather than a warrior? I won't hold my breath waiting for the answer. (Gandhi?) How to Train Your Dragon figures out how to have it both ways of course (this is mainstream cinema) and like Tangled, it trips on nervous bids at popularity: why do the kids speak with modern American snark while all the adults have Scottish accents? I haven't a clue! But its flight sequences are as magical as Avatar's and Toothless, the dread Night Fury is a brilliantly executed character. This is a personal choice but this movie arrived in my life right when I needed it. Our top tens ought to be a personal, else why make them? Dragon might be the best hug-your-pet movie since Babe (1995); it's not perfect but that'll do.

The Ghost Writer dir. Roman Polanski
[Summit, March 19th]
We never learn the name of the ghost (Ewan McGregor) hired to shadow and write about a politician under investigation (Pierce Brosnan) and why should we? The movie also plays it coy. Polanski's amazing sleight of hand alternately flashes us a political satire, a nihilistic comedy, a murder thriller and maybe even a drama about having a really shitty job for which no rewards or public acknowledgement will ever come. The Ghost Writer has memorably sinister interiors filled with sharp angles and splashes of blood red color. The exteriors are no safer as the endless stormy weather, slick streets and bodies washed ashore portend. Can a whole film be a red herring? It all builds towards the year's most brilliant ending, a vanishing act, a negation.


Fish Tank dir. Andrea Arnold
[IFC Films, January 15th]
Arnold's sophomore feature follows an angry British girl Mia (Katie Jarvis) around in her grim daily life as she hates on her family, picks fights with the neighbors, crushes on her mom's new man (Michael Fassbender, predictably excellent), and dreams of becoming a professional hiphop dancer. There are plentiful movies about downtrodden inarticulate characters each year but few this acutely observed. Even when Fish Tank risks going off the rails by willfully slamming into metaphor (the horse) or veering towards the edge of genre territory (an abduction) it works a peculiar beguiling magic. Just when you think the movie can't possibly resolve the gangly awkward impulses of its teen protagonist towards any satisfying conclusion, it stages a farewell dance that's both perfectly surreal and absurdly mundane. Wow.

..CONTINUE TO THE COMPLETE TOP TEN

Tuesday
Jan112011

Pippi Long Linkings

Some links and/or movie news for your perusal

  • Playbill Greenday's "American Idiot," once an album then a Broadway stage musical could eventually be coming to the screen.
  • Deadline Hollywood Daniel Craig will be back as James Bond (whew) in November 2012. No title yet though we're betting it'll easy trump "Quantum of Solace". Sam Mendes is directing. 
  • Cinema Blend Katey shares the news that Debra Granik (Winter's Bone) wants to bring Pippi Longstocking back to the screen. How peculiar/fun!
  • The House Next Door takes an interesting Baltimore-specific look at both Hairspray (1988) and Hairspray (2007).
  • Gold Derby rounds up the Golden Globe predictions from the experts, including moi. Can you believe it's this weekend?
  • My New Plaid Pants obsesses over new HBO Game of Thrones pics. I keep hearing that George R R Martin loses the thread of his story a little bit on the 3rd book (and that there's no book 4) but I tell you. I'm already on book 3 but I think he lost the thread on book 2. It took forever and when it was all over it's kind of like "so, what happened?" everyone is still at war with each other and no closer to resolution on any of their stories. The end. You know, long arcs are fine. But you have to stagger them a bit so that SOMETHING happens. I mean a lot of things happened but few that advanced the big arc. It was a bit like how I felt at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One only less angry because Martin's writing is so beautifully assured. My how he can paragraph.
  • i09 on the American cast of new Being Human series (based on the British series of the same name). Normally I oppose remakes but there's no reason why this couldn't be better since (spoiler alert: NOTHING HAPPENS in Being Human either). It's turning into a theme today. Seriously, where were the stakes in Being Human? It was just a whole lot of supernatural moping.

David E. Kelley, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Henry and Claudia Rose

Finally, as you may have heard, Michelle Pfeiffer is getting back to work in 2011. The goddess is currently filming the Valentine's Day sequel New Year's Eve which opens this December and now she's confirmed for Alex Kurtzman's Welcome to People (2012) where she'll play the mother of Chris Pine, a man who must deliver his deceased dad's fortune to a long lost sister (or some such. I'm no good with plots.) Now, I know we're all getting older every day and I know that my favorite movie star is 52 BUT her own children (pictured above in 2009 are not even in their 20s yet. Claudia Rose is 17 and John Henry is 16. Michelle is not old enough to play a 30 year old's mother. Well, yes, she technically is but I don't have to like it. Please to remember that her last onscreen lover Rupert Friend is only a year older than Chris Pine.

Given the cinematic year the world's 50-to-60something actresses just had (I'm talking about Tilda Swinton, Isabelle Huppert, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Kim Hye-Ja, Barbara Hershey, Helen Mirren, Jacki Weaver, Melissa Leo and Lesley Manville who all starred or co-starred in complex roles in successful films) I think Pfeiffer is totally slacking. Pick it up lady. Challenge yo'self.

Tuesday
Jan112011

Cinematography Honors

The seasonal wheels keep turning. I can't keep up. I literally have three, count them, THREE interviews to type up. Plus the top ten list. But awards news waits for no man. Not even Nathaniel, man. If you don't peruse every awards website known to man, the following info regarding visual work that's somewhat safely on the Oscar nomination track will come as fresh news to you. If you do, you've already sussed out what you think it all means and you're ahead of us.

I Am Vertigo

First, a moment of silence for I Am Love's Yorick Le Saux who was not nominated for ASC's cinematography prize despite having better Vertigo hair bun homages than Black Swan! I only partially kid because both movies are byootiful (biutiful?) but...come on. I Am Love is not going to get any Oscar nominations and that is going to make me jump off my web cliff.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS

ASC Feature Nominees

  • Danny Cohen for The King's Speech
  • Jeff Cronenwerth for The Social Network
  • Roger Deakins for True Grit
  • Matthew Libatique for Black Swan
  • Wally Pfister for Inception

127 SpeechesThis list could transfer intact to Oscar -- they're all handsome movies for sure -- but you never know. ASC nominees, like all guild honors, generally differ a bit from the final Academy pronouncement. [2009 FLASHBACK - LOOKOUT!] Last year for example Oscar dumped Dion Beebe's ASC nominated work on Nine for Bruno Delbonnel's work on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. If you ask me it was a downgrade. Sure everyone hated Nine and blah blah blah... but awards aren't supposed to be about whether you loved the film (that's Best Picture) but what was done in that category. And Nine was beautifully shot. The weirdest thing about Rob Marshall's oeuvre is that the art directors are always getting credit for how well the DP's shoot those big cavernous somewhat empty stages.[/FLASHBACK] The King's Speech and The Social Network are probably the vulnerable ones here as they're the least showy and "best" often equates with "most" in awards season. You may see either or both of them replaced by Robert Richardson's work on Shutter Island (I'll never forget Nick calling that one "gangrenous") or the two gents from 127 Hours (who might get credit not just for the beautiful lighting but also for the inventive setups given the claustrophobic environs. But me, I'm rooting for a surprise foreign attack from I Am Love. Stop laughing! Popular foreign films sometimes show up here. Especially the visually wondrous ones.

The question on everyone's mind: Is Deakins EVER going to win an Oscar? It won't be an easy get this year either.

ASC TV Nominees
(announced last month)

  • Eagle Egilsson for "Shell Game" Dark Blue
  • Jonathan Freeman for "Home" Boardwalk Empire
  • Christopher Manley for "Blowing Smoke" Mad Men
  • Kramer Morgenthau for "Family Limitation" Boardwalk Empire
  • David Stockton for "Pilot" Nikita
  • Michael Wale for "Shield" Smallville
  • Glen Winter for "Abandoned" Smallville

Sigh. I miss Mad Men so hard, don't you? The nominated episode is the one where Midge (awesome Rosemarie DeWitt) returns all drugged up.The ASC Awards ceremony is on February 13th.